Do phrases such as “What’s that say?” or “Why is the type so small!” find their way into your conversations more and more these days? Have you had to squint a bit more to make out your neighbor waving at you from their garden? Experiencing vision changes can be frustrating! Fortunately, there are many ways to proactively manage eye wellness and see your neighbor’s smile a bit better.
Proper precautions and treatments can help people with eye health issues, and often improve sight. You may want to go ahead and eat another helping of your leafy greens at dinner tonight or spend a few more seconds washing your hands all in the name of better eyesight. Read on to see how you can add in a few healthy lifestyle habits and change your exclamations to, “Oh! I see!”
A Proactive Approach to Eye Health
Practicing precautionary measures through lifestyle is key for eye wellness, and several areas would be great to bring up with a medical professional for consideration. Each individual should follow their medical professional’s advice and speak with them before making diet or exercise changes.
Healthy Living for Eye Wellness
The number one action to take within an eye-healthy lifestyle is to get annual eye exams. In addition, it helps to be mindful of risk awareness, diet, and common conditions that can affect eyes.
Lifestyle recommendations from the National Eye Institute include, but are not limited to:
- Eat Your Greens. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables—particularly dark, leafy greens is great due to the carotenoids in them (lutein and zeaxanthin) which positively affect retina health and may aid in glare reduction, enhance contrast, and increase visual range.
- Take a Walk. Maintaining a healthy weight is recommended for all areas of health. Being overweight increases the risk for diabetes developing, which can lead to vision loss.
- Protect Your Eyes. Wear glasses, goggles, and safety shields when appropriate. The sun’s ultraviolet rays can be harmful to the eyes. Extended UV exposure is responsible for an estimated 20 percent of cataract cases.
- Avoid Smoking. Studies link smoking to an increased risk for age-related macular degeration, cataracts, and optic nerve damage.
- Be Mindful of Screen Use. Electronic screens give off blue light which can lessen contrast and lead to digital eye strain. Over time, studies suggest, retina damage could result from continued exposure to blue light and cause an issue like age-related macular degeneration. For those who must use screens each day for long periods, reduce eye strain by looking 20 feet before you for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
- Wash Your Hands. Cleaning hands regularly can greatly help you to avoid infections such as conjunctivitis and corneal ulcers.
Family history awareness is also good to have when it comes to eye heath. It can better equip a medical professional to diagnose and treat eyes, and can empower one with an eye issue.
Being aware of risk factors for eye conditions, too, can be helpful. Those with diabetes, high blood pressure, or who take medications that affect eyes are at higher risk for vision problems. There are other conditions that may affect seniors in particular that are worth noting.
Four Eye Issues That Can Affect Seniors:
- Dry eye. This is a common issue for seniors, in which not enough tears or quality tears are made, and poor vision may result.
- Age-related macular degeneration. It is an issue that causes central vision loss, but does not affect side vision. The macula of the eye allows people to see fine details and colors, so when it is affected, activities such as reading, watching movies, and recognizing faces could be challenging.
- Cataracts. These are cloudy areas that occur in the eye lens (usually in both eyes, to different degrees) that can cause blurry vision, poor contrast awareness, dulled colors, and extra sensitivity to glare.
- Glaucoma. This is a group of eye issues which damage the optic nerve and in time can take away side vision. While glaucoma is often painless and has no symptoms, older adults are at risk for it.
Eye Condition Treatments
“The better to see you my dear!”
Glasses, contacts, and spectacles–oh my! The American Optometric Association is a great resource to explore many of the different treatments utilized for many vision conditions. Some solutions include:
- Rehabilitation Programs: Optometrist led rehabilitation programs designed to help with low vision for daily routines.
- Prescription Devices: A few examples include spectacle-mounted magnifiers that aid in close-up tasks; hand-held or spectacle-mounted telescopes that help near and far vision; handheld and stand magnifiers that assist with short-term reading; and video magnification that enlarges items on video.
- Surgeries: It is amazing what can be achieved surgically. A few examples include artificial lenses, stints to relieve optic nerve pressure, implantable mini telescopes for end-stage macular degeneration, and implantable eye drops.
As technology continues to advance in the field of eye care, there are more and more ways to address eye conditions. With the wide scope of treatments for consideration, and the tips provided here for proactive eye wellness (so that treatments may not be necessary), it is our hope you’ll be well on your way to having the best eye health possible.